I Want To Know

brains! (Photo credit: cloois)

I want to know why salt makes me feel smarter.

I want to know if there are any unbiased (not financed by someone with an agenda) studies of brain activity during video gaming, and if anyone really understands the results of those studies.

I want to know what happens in my brain when I go from utter confusion to sudden understanding.  In my imagination I see the tendrils of neurons or synapses or whatever, reaching, straining, trying to find something, and then… an electrical spark when they connect, forming a complete idea.

I want to know why I can’t concentrate in a silent room.

I want to know why I switch compound words.  (In my head belldoor sounds perfectly reasonable – it takes concentration to say it aloud as doorbell.)

I want to know why being the center of attention makes me feel good, but being in the center of a crowd makes me panic.

I want to know how the emotional and logical sides of my brain communicate with each other and why they can hold such opposing thoughts at the same time.  (I only like songs with good lyrics because I don’t care about music / I am moved to tears by a beautiful solo guitar piece / I hate reading poetry.  Ok – that was three opposing thoughts.)

If I had unlimited money – I wouldn’t buy a new car or a big house or lots of clothes, I would buy knowledge.  I would pay experts in neuroscience to figure out the way my brain learns, and to then adapt all the information in the world to that format so that I could absorb it as easily as possible.

Then I would package all of that information, in that easy-to-learn format, and give it away free on the internet so that people like me who Want to Know, but who suck at school, can learn, Everything.

Rewatching The Hours

movie night!
(Photo credit: ginnerobot)

This isn’t a review of the movie, because I suck at reviews. It is just a list of thoughts prompted by the watching. It is really hard to write a review when everything you write is invariably about yourself.  Except for my fiction of course, none of that is about me.  I swear.  Ok, maybe the one about going back in time to observe neanderthals is a little bit biographical, but that’s the only one.

Thought #1: The movie The Hours is almost exactly ten years old.  The last time I saw it was probably 6 or 7 years ago. But the first time I saw it was as a Blockbuster movie rental probably soon after it came out on DVD.  You remember those days, don’t you, when you had to actually leave your house if you wanted to rent a movie?  I remember that night we were all at my Dad’s house for ‘Tuesday night dinner,’ a tradition he started when he and my mom divorced and which lasted for over a decade.  It only ended when he and my step-mom moved to North Carolina.  I don’t know of any parent of adult children who managed to get them to gather for a family dinner once a week – for ten years.  It amazes me that he had so much power over us, even after we’d all moved out.  I mean that in a good way. Really.  Anyway, every time I’ve seen the movie since then I get a little nostalgic for those days.  For being with my family, sharing meals and watching movies and playing games with them.  Sounds cheesy, but it is all true. And none of this has to do with the contents of the movie at all.

Thought #2: I can recognize a movie set in New York City before 9/11. The city is only a casual backdrop, something to set the place or mood, easily recognized and easily ignored. That nameless relative who’s in all the old family pictures. But then, tragedy. Now, its past is part of every story. Whether the story has anything to do with the event or not.

I wrote that statement above and then I looked up the facts. I am really good at this. The movie premiered in December of 2002.  Wasn’t released in theaters until Jan of ’03.  I know that the scene in New York is set in 2001, presumably in the spring of that year, it says so right on the screen, but when was it filmed?  Probably after 9/11.  But there is nothing of that ‘a tragedy occurred here‘ feeling that I sense so often in post 9/11 NYC set films.  I find that very interesting.  Watch Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and then watch The Devil Wears Prada (2006).  As a ‘character’ in both of these films, the city has a very different feel in each.

#3: There is a scene in the movie that reminded me how much I’ve changed in the years since I last watched it. It doesn’t matter which scene, it was simply a moment of truth where a character is learning something about themselves. I realized that my reaction to that scene is different now than it was back then. I don’t think I really understood that scene the first time. Or if I did it was a very different sort of understanding, a sympathy not an empathy. I love those unexpected moments of self-realization that a book or movie you’ve seen or read a hundred times before can give you.  Just a reminder that you never stop learning or changing.

#4: I always identified with the ‘middle’ woman, the character played by Julianne Moore. Even when I saw it all those years ago, I knew I was the type choose escape over self-destruction. “What does it mean to regret when you have no choice?” she asks.

Final Thoughts: I didn’t cry, although I remember crying the first time I saw it. I’m not sure why I didn’t this time. Perhaps I wasn’t in a teary mood. I’ve had a good couple of days, good writing, good conversations. The movie only added to my sense of productive introspection.  And that is all I have to say about that.  Now, stop obsessing over your view count and go watch a movie.